Killer Interview Question: What Is Your Spiritual Practice?

An unusual addition to the killer interview questions collection: What is your spiritual practice?.

Picture: Getty Images/Frazer Harrison

This falls into the region of questions that a prospective employer should never actually ask in Australia, because seeking details that could be used as the basis of discrimination, including religious affiliation, is contrary to anti-discrimination law.

There are a very narrow and specific set of circumstances where it is an allowable question, such as religious bodies employing those to take part in religious observances, but for the most part, employers aren't allowed to ask questions that could give the appearance of potential discrimination in interviews.

Oprah Winfrey apparently used the question — and she'd be in trouble in Australia if she did — but her spin on it wasn't specifically religious but instead asking about prospective employees' relationships with themselves, and what measures, if any, they used to keep themselves balanced.

There's all sorts of ways to answer that question. If it's pertinent to the job, you could point out hobbies that you have that allow you to remain centred but also enhance your employability. So jogging, for example could be a big plus because you're keeping fit, but abseiling might be a dangerous fitness choice due to the perceived risk.

Likewise, activities such as meditation and yoga could impress someone asking a question along those lines.

How would you answer the question?

Oprah Winfrey asked this unorthodox interview question to find an executive for her television network [Business Insider]


    Utter BS of course, doesn't she realise we are nothing more than just another species on this planet. There is nothing mystique about us, nothing special (apart from making up spiritualism). We evolved to rise to almost the top of the food chain (but not quite) without the help of the supernatural.

    She also said atheists can't feel a sense of awe.

      Another outmoded, ignorant view of people who don't believe in the existence of god. No surprise it came out of the mouth of someone who blindly promotes practically every pseudo-scientific woo see can find & has built the careers of people like Dr. Oz.

    How would I answer the question? Honestly, I'd play along based on how much I wanted the job and how the question was asked. I'd pretty much give an ambiguous answer - then push it back to them to answer the same question so I can gauge any qualifying answers.

    Yes, the question may be illegal - but I'm not going to be an idiot about it over principles.

    Oprah is a funny one. She seems to swing between whichever practice or belief is the current 'in' one.

    Ask her this question one a year for a decade and you'd get a wildly different answer each time.

    Actually they can ask that question in Australia, if the employer or the role is exempt from that clause. (ie a religious organisation, health care providers etc) where the religious beliefs of a person is at odds with either the legal practices of the employer, the customers or the service they provide. But they are suppose to announce that stuff in the job ads before you apply and apply for a legal exemption to that clause. (its rare-ish)

    If you applied to work for a church or religious school, you dont have to be of that religion but you cant be at conflict with that belief and must be well informed of that belief to do that job effectively. But if you were to apply to be the minister of a church, you have to be of that religion (obviously) :P

    If the question came out of the blue, uncharacteristic to the job I would answer it with a question and see wtf they are on about? "Thats a very open question can you clarify what you mean by spiritual practice and how you see it relating to this role and my everday duties ?" if that throws them for a loop "or do you wish to know more about myself as a person and how I view and treat others as equals as per standard EEO policy, or would you like to know how I see the human race as a whole in the scheme of the universe as a singular entity of existentialism?"

    I'd have to say I don't have one. It's probably a bad move - but that's the funny thing about the truth. I could talk about what drives me, what my reasons are and what I want to achieve in life - but spirituality is not my thing.

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